The Austin Digital Jobs group (ADJ) celebrates the tremendous talent where we’re headquartered and boasts nearly 50,000 members – we’re devoted to retaining talent in Austin and attracting new brands, and letting our hair down while we do it.
To help us see what we have in common while simultaneously showcasing our diversity, we’re bringing “Humans of ADJ” to you as a nod to the famous photo essay project, “Humans of New York.”
The goal is to learn more about each other as humans.
We want to showcase things less obvious about ourselves – a game developer who plays professional rugby, a digital marketing strategist who has lived in 12 countries, a UX pro who served 23 years in the Navy, a technical writer who is currently fostering 12 animals and bottle feeding 5… you get the idea.
We are more than our job titles. Every single one of us. We sincerely seek to demonstrate the uniqueness of folks in this town in hopes that we can connect with each other more meaningfully.
Our first feature is Chris O’Riley – he’s a brand new father, he navigated a challenging childhood, and his take on humanity is kind and sincere. The following answers are in his words:
Q: Do you have a mantra?
A: In a moment where I’m happy, or given the chance to truly help someone, I remember to tell myself that every terrible moment in my life has gotten me to this exact moment, right here, right now.
I’ve had some unique experiences that I’ve been able to share with others as a way to relate, and prove that it DOES GET BETTER. Being able to say “Sure, that all happened, but I’m happy now” is really encouraging.
Q: Someone says you have to teach a seminar in 5 minutes – with no prep time, what topic do you choose and why?
A: Life is change, and change is scary, and often happens for unfortunate reasons. It can wreck someone’s life if they can’t accept it, roll with it, or recover from it.
I would choose this topic because I’m intimately familiar with it due to my childhood and growing up, and ever since I learned that I am NOT a byproduct of the things that have happened to me, but rather, how I dealt with them, I’ve been happier and more successful that I thought possible.
Q: Who most shaped you professionally? Personally? Tell us a bit about either/or.
A: I didn’t grow up with a very steady family situation, with landing in an orphanage at 7, and having a couple of foster families until I emancipated myself at 17.
Having people treat me like family taught me compassion, the value of helping other people, and helped my believe that I was worthwhile.
Q: What experience has most defined your life?
A: Definitely the orphaning. I highly doubt I’d have survived this long had I stayed in that situation, and surviving the various hardships that came from it helps keep me grounded, and from taking things for granted as easily.
Q: What does “The American Dream” mean to you?
A: I feel like the American Dream has shifted in my generation. Before, it was a house, 2 cars, 2 and a half kids, and a retirement plan.
Now, it’s having a safe world to raise a kid in if you choose to raise one, and otherwise, finding some way to be happy despite the state of America. I guess you can say that I dream of a different America. A kinder, more accepting, less ruthless and “us vs. them” oriented America.
Q: What do you believe we all have in common as humans?
A: We’re all sentient shambling meatbags with wants, needs, fears, hopes, and dreams. Every last one of us. I believe we’re all capable of kindness and cruelty, but we’re more likely to share the one that we receive more of.
I also believe all of us can do better by encouraging one another to do so, by example. I’m not saying we will, but we CAN.”
Q: Dream job?
A: A dream job for me would be not just something to make money and do something I enjoy, but to pass on the kind of things that helped me get to where I am.
I believe that everything that’s happened to me and how I dealt with those things put me where I am today, so the logical next step is to share that with people who might be going through what I did once upon a time.
Thank you for your realness, Chris, we appreciate you and feel less alone in our quirky lives! For anyone who wants to be considered as a featured Human of ADJ, click here for info (and please note, there’s a very very long wait list, but we’re getting systems in place to feature folks more frequently!).